You say you would only love a woman who is a reader and at least as intelligent as you. This is a challenge. Not on account of women, but the condition of Americans generally. If you were a homosexual this would be just as tricky, or maybe a bit less, if only because openly homosexual men tend to be educated. If you were a heterosexual woman, I would tell you to be prepared to settle. You should be prepared for that anyway, in most matters. Doing so defends your sanity. Nevertheless, in your search for this woman you must understand that serious reading is ultimately a leisure activity of the upper-middle and upper classes in America. All classes read, many poor kids read voraciously, but their po-dunk and shot-up schools cannot turn the appetite into taste, and by the time they are adults they have turned to the television and magazines. Serious readers are nursed by IB and AP classes and decent liberal arts colleges or very good professors nibbling at the margins of big state schools. You mentioned MFA programs but you are not a writer, and a woman in that sort of thing is more likely to accept a man who is her antithesis, a counterweight - a financial analyst or orthodontist - than she is to tolerate a dilettante and snob like you intruding on her great love.

You will want a girl with wounded self-esteem and a need to belong - there are plenty of those - but not so many who can discuss Turgenev and Camus earnestly. If you can, I would advise you to get committed to a haute-bourgeois psychiatric hospital like McLean's and make a show of reading easily identifiable works of literary fiction in every common area. Strike up conversations with any girl in the day room who has a notebook or decent novel in her little shaky hands, who has bandaged wrists and insomniac eyes. If you don't have the nerve to go this far, seek out support groups for cutters, burners, or bulimics in and around elite universities and preppy suburbs.

~David Foster Wallace, Fan Mail Response dated 03/09/2004, archived by The Harry Ransom Center

Saw this posted a few times online, nowhere else to be found. Not sure how to access the Harry Ransom Center if that's true or how credible the lead is. Doesn't sound like David to me, and if so it definitely sounds like something a "hideous man" would say.

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    The Harry Ransom Center has a David Foster Wallace archive, and you can read the catalog, which says, "A relatively small amount of correspondence is in the papers, and what is present is almost entirely work-related between Wallace and his editors, fact-checkers, etc." Only one letter to a fan is catalogued, and that from 1997. Apr 6, 2023 at 10:35


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